“Life is better with a positive outlook.” ~ Unknown
We had a big time tonight. UK offered seats at an okay rate to its employees, so I got three. They were nose bleed seats; so high in Rupp Arena that Mom and I both had a hard time with vertigo. Nevertheless, we had a blast. It was mom’s first UK Wildcat game at Rupp. Dad used to go when he was a younger man. Tonight, instead, he periodically reminded us that you can see the game better on TV. This he repeated in between his chanting “Go Big Blue” and “BOO,” which was said a lot during this game. Mom said going in that they’d lose because she was going. She was right. An LSU buzzer shot, despite goal tending, lost us the game. Still, we had a great time, crappy seats and all.
Yesterday was Groundhog Day. It was also Hero and Shero’s 56th wedding anniversary. Today, we met for a delicious brunch. Dad liked telling the waitress that this was their one year anniversary. We all laughed, because it was such an obvious lie, as if the twinkle in his eye didn’t give it away on its own. We saw a lot of people we knew so we had great visits with all of them and with each other. The weather was stunningly perfect, too. Don’t they look good? They’ve had a bad couple of years of late, but they’ve both been feeling pretty good recently. Winter months can be hard for the older generations, especially if they’re prone to illness, but these two have weathered the cold exceptionally well. I, for one, am exceedingly grateful to celebrate them once more. They give me hope that one day my hair will be a beautiful white, too.
Sometimes Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas Day. Today was just such an occasion. Aunt Lois came for dad at 10am. They went off for a day of Christmas services at church, dinners, fellowship, and more. Meanwhile, Mom and I also set out on a day-long adventure that ended with the Nutcracker performed by the Cincinnati Ballet in newly renovated Music Hall. Mom had never seen the Nutcracker before, and neither of us had been inside Music Hall. It was an absolutely perfect day start to finish. Christmas, I am reminded, is not about gifts, no matter how much our capitalist society would have you believe otherwise. Christmas is about this. Take joy in your loved ones and go have adventures as much as you are able.
We all had such a good time yesterday that I caught not one, not two, but three smiles from Tony Adkins. He’s the sweetest man ever was, but he rarely smiles even when he’s super happy. So, when I caught the first smile I thought it was an anomaly. It wasn’t. Tony was smiling throughout the day. That just tickled me to death because I love him very much and want him to be happy. I’m sure to catch more smiles as the years roll on.
We had our fall family gathering today at Uncle Harold and Aunt Phyllis’ farm in Morgan County (that’s Eastern Kentucky for those unfamiliar). Fall’s brisk weather finally swooped in and made the day crisp and overcast. Perfection. We ate hearty foods, drank hot coffee, had our annual hay ride, shared birthday cake for Dad and Aunt Linda, and told ghost stories. In fact, that may have been the most fun of the day, sitting in a room surrounded by the elders telling stories of visitations and haints galore; the fantastic and the believable. There was something very, very different about this gathering from the others we’ve had. I sensed a calm in the air. The bittersweet thirst for those no longer with us while reveling in their memories in unadulterated happiness. Perhaps Cousin Brian was on to something during the hayride. “We are the age our parents were when we went on hayrides,” he said as we sat sandwiched between first and third generation Terrys. It happens to every generation in every family, in slow, often imperceptible ways until one day Cousin Brian sees the culmination of time in a single moment. The realization that the changing of the guard is fully underway. This is just one blessing of this family; to have sustained multiple relationships over decades that can come together and celebrate goodness. To be truly grateful for the gifts in spite of the sadness, to me, is a mark of great faith. That is something this family has in spades.
Dad’s sister, Barbara Ann, gives him a birthday kiss as their great-niece Macie looks on. Dad loves his family so much and they sure do love him back. I’m still so happy he had a birthday dinner that so many of the family could be at.
Because, when you turn 80, you get as much pie as you want. And when you’re my hero, you get many, many, many posts.
Tonight we celebrated dad’s 80th birthday. Sixteen of us were able to gather at Ramsey’s for a Monday night dinner and he was just as tickled as he could be to see everyone. Before dinner he got a call from his brother Darrell in Flatwoods, and during dinner he got phone calls from his sister Mable in Florida and great-nephew AJ at work. The clincher of the night may well have been Marcie and Steven Terry. Marcie is dad’s baby brother James’ wife and Steven, their son, is the youngest Terry grandchild. He’s also the tallest at 6’3″. Dad has always thought Steven favors his dad, but after James died, I noticed that dad longs to talk with him. He was visibly moved that Steven and Marcie drove from Stanton on a work night to be with him. It meant the world to me and mom, too. This family really pulled together to give dad a wonderful birthday. We didn’t think he’d survive to see 80, and everybody at that table was keenly aware of the gift we’ve been given to celebrate him once more. Never take your people for granted. Celebrate them at every opportunity.
Dad turns 80 tomorrow, but since that’s a Monday – I have to work and they have appointments all day – we started the festivities today. We did what we often do when we’re looking for an adventure: we took off with no particular destination. Ya just start driving and see where the road leads. Today, it led us first to Highbridge then to the Historic Battle of Perryville Battlefield (top photo). We had a wonderful day together and we were treated to a beautiful Bluegrass sunset on the way home. I’m so grateful.